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UK retail sales rise further above pre-COVID levels,,on September 18, 2020 at 6:38 am
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UK retail sales rise further above pre-COVID levels,,on September 18, 2020 at 6:38 am

LONDON — British shoppers continued to increase spending last month, taking sales further above pre-COVID levels, as strong online demand helped much of the sector enjoyed a faster rebound than the rest of the economy.

Retail sales volumes rose by 0.8% in August, the Office for National Statistics said – slightly above the average 0.7% forecast in a Reuters poll – and, compared with a year earlier, they were up 2.8%, just below forecasts of 3.0% annual growth.

British retail sales had already overtaken pre-COVID levels in July and now stand 4.0% higher than before the crisis.

However, the rebound masks a sharp split between online and high-street retailers, with online and mail order retailing up 34.4% on the year in August, while many traditional retailers outside the grocery sector have suffered reduced footfall.

“Clothing stores continued to struggle, with sales still well below their February level. Overall, the switch to greater online sales means the high street remains under pressure,” ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow said.

See Also

The crisis in traditional retailing is having a knock-on effect for commercial landlords, with many stores closing and tenants such as clothing chain New Look seeking to renegotiate rents to link them to turnover.

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